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TikTok Owner ByteDance Plans For Global Expansion, Says Founder

TikTok Owner ByteDance Plans For Global Expansion, Says Founder
ByteDance, owner of the wildly successful TikTok app, is now aiming to go global with expansion into fresh initiatives such as education, said the founder and owner of the company Zhang Yiming in a letter to the employees.
The plans were further revealed in an interview of Yiming with the news agency Reuters in which the company founder spoke about his vision of becoming a fully global company just like Google and Facebook even in the face of increased scrutiny of the company by the United States government over the data practices of its TikTok app.
“There are a lot of misunderstandings out there,” Zhang told Reuters. “We are more localized in different markets than people think.”
In the United States, TikTok has become very popular as a social media platform in recent times and according to reports, its parent company ByteDance is now being valued at about $100 billion in the secondary market.
According to Joan Wang, an early investor in ByteDance and managing director of SIG China, the plans of Zhang of taking the company global were apparent in 2013 when the company just a year old and barely made any revenue.
His AI-based recommendation algorithms then in use in the Chinese-language news aggregator Jinri Toutiao of the company could also be used in an expanded for different languages and content formats, Zhang had said back, according to Wang.
“The resources at the time seemed far from enough for achieving his global goals,” Wang said.
According to reports, measures that would allow TikTok to avoid divesting the assets that the company had acquired and were later integrated into TikTok are being discussed between the company and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The review being conducted by the body was prompted by rising concerns about the way the company handled private date of its users amid escalating trade tensions between the US and China.
According to reports, while also trying to assure the CFIUS about data safety, ByteDance is also taking measures to completely separate TikTok from many of its other Chinese businesses.
“I am not directly involved in this situation,” Zhang said, when asked about how talks with CFIUS were going. On the overall he was “optimistic” about the company’s interactions with the U.S. government, he added.
With the aim of pacifying regulators and showing the American public how the company manages data and content on its, platform, the setting up of a “transparency center” in Los Angeles was announced by the company earlier this week.
According to the Reuters report, suggestion of a spin-off of TikTok was made by some supporters and backers of the company last year. However that option was discarded by the company. Currently, Zhang has complete control of the voting rights in the company even as it raised billions of dollars from prominent investors such as SoftBank Group Corp, KKR & Co Inc and Sequoia Capital China.
While talking about the company’s aspirations of going global, Zhang has insisted that the product development strategy and capability of the company was already at a global level. He pointed out to the development of a new social media app called Helo for the Indian market while trying to show how ByteDance has the capability to develop a product from scratch for a local market. “We believe the short-term digital advertising market in India is small, but the growth potential is large,” he said.
Also optimized for a global roll-out was Lark - the workplace productivity app.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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